More Rape Cases Reported During Lockdown…IG, Activists

More Rape Cases Reported During Lockdown…IG, Activists

…A Total of 717 Cases Reported Between January – May, 2020 …Investigations Already Concluded on 631 Cases with Suspects Charged to Court …799 Suspects Arrested in Connection with these Cases …Victims Range from Toddlers to Women Over 70 …Police is Collaborating with Other Security Agencies, NGOs on this Matter Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed

…A Total of 717 Cases Reported Between January – May, 2020

…Investigations Already Concluded on 631 Cases with Suspects Charged to Court

…799 Suspects Arrested in Connection with these Cases

…Victims Range from Toddlers to Women Over 70

…Police is Collaborating with Other Security Agencies, NGOs on this Matter

Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said a total of 717 rape cases were reported to the Police nationwide between January and May 2020. He attributed this upsurge to the lockdown arising from government efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen cases in the country ballooning to over 16,000 by Sunday night, with the national death toll also rising to 430.

A survey conducted jointly by Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and Upright for Nigeria on the impact of the lockdown on women, also indicate the rise in gender and sexual related violence during the period as the victims were helmed in together with their potential abusers.

Briefing State House correspondents on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr Adamu said out of the 717 cases, investigations have been concluded in 631 cases with the suspects already in court. He also said investigations were still ongoing in the remaining 52 cases.

The IGP further disclosed that 799 suspects were arrested in connection with the cases.

“It has come to the public knowledge now that because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we have a surge in cases of rape and gender-based violence,” the Police boss said.

“Law enforcement agents have been dealing with these cases, and in most cases, members of the public are not aware of the actions that the law enforcement agents have been taken.

“The Nigeria Police so far from January to May 2020, we have recorded about 717 rape incidents that were reported across the country; about 799 suspects have been arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases are left and under investigation.

“The Police and other security agencies and other non-governmental organisations have been collaborating, to see to it that these cases of rape and gender-based violence are dealt with.

“The NGOs and CSOs that have the capacity to deal with this kind of offences, have been cooperating with law enforcement agencies in capacity building, management of victims of rape and similar offences and procedures for collecting evidence towards successful prosecution.

“The government has taken the matter to another level now because of the scourge we have noticed,” Adamu noted.

Dr Nsekpong Udoh, who coordinated the joint CSOs survey in Akwa Ibom, said “The lockdown has increased gender based violence since the women are locked down with their potential abusers”. She also disclosed that “most of the women are not complaining because of fear of going to meet their abusers at home.”

The revelations are coming at a time protests are holding across the country against increasing cases of rape and defilement of women of all ages from minors to those above 80.

A 22-year-old student of the University of Benin, Miss Vera Omozuwa, was raped and brutally murdered in a church in Ikpoba Hill, Benin City, Edo State, recently. Also, an 18-year-old Miss Barakat Bello was raped and killed in Ibadan, Oyo State. There was also the reported case of a pregnant woman, Mrs Queen Igbineovba who was raped to death at her uptown residence in Uselu, Benin City in the Edo State capital while another 21 year old National Diploma student at Oke Ogun Polytechnic, Miss Grace Oshiagwu, was allegedly raped and murdered inside a church in the Ojoo area of Ibadan in Akinyele local government area, Oyo state on Saturday, June 13. She was discovered with machete cuts on her body.

The Senate last Wednesday considered a critical bill seeking to protect victims of rape against any form of stigmatisation in the country. This is against the backdrop of rising calls by activists that rapists should be castrated.

The bill, which scaled second reading on the floor during plenary, also provides for prosecution and punishment of any person or group of persons who stigmatise such victims with a view to uphold and protect their Fundamental Right to Dignity and Freedom of Association as provided by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Titled: Rape and Insurgency Victims Stigmatisation (Prohibition) Bill 2019, itwas sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).

Leading debate on the bill during plenary, Senator Musa said if passed into law, the bill would among other things, encourage victims of rape to testify in court.

The bill which contains 11 (Eleven) Clauses, according to the lawmaker, would also ensure the re-integration of victims of insurgency into the community of their choice.

“Mr. President, you are all aware of the scourge of the instabilities in most of our communities in Nigeria, ranging from insurgence, banditry and violence against women, children and even men,” Musa said.

“Presently, rape is now a common phenomenon and occurs worldwide. In fact, available data suggests that in some countries one in five women report sexual violence or being raped by an intimate partner and up to a third of girls report forced sexual initiation. This also cuts across diverse age range of victims ranging from young toddlers and children to even older victims aged 70 years old, with over seventy percent of the victims under 19.

“The bill is to provide for the legal and institutional framework for the protocol for re-integration of victims of rape and insurgency in Nigeria. If this bill is passed into law, it would certainly provide a new lease of life for victims of rape and insurgency in the country.”

The lawmaker, who bemoaned the trauma which most victims of rape suffer and are exposed to in the country, blamed the development on what he described as the “ineptitude” of the Nigerian justice system.

“The justice system in Nigeria is incredibly inept and for rape cases, this is even more traumatic. A rape victim goes to the police to report and the policeman or woman tells the victim to go and sort it out at home as it is a domestic case. And the consequences of such act is that the victim is left at the mercy of the society without any protection,” he stated.

“This sort of stigma has prevented many survivors from reporting abuse and seeking justice. Victims of insurgency and other violent acts needs this kind of laws that will not only promote gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls as fundamental to all efforts to prevent and address sexual violence, but also progressively uplift such victims.

“We are all living witnesses to the upsurge of the criminality of rape and the destruction of lives been perpetrated by those coward criminals in our communities, coupled with the fact that our country has an extremely low conviction rate for rape and sexual abuses despite the increase in violence against women in recent years.”

The lawmaker, who recalled the interventions by the Senate on violence against women, noted that, “it is high time we (National Assembly) legislate and take actions that will address some of the shortcomings in Nigeria’s legal system on issues of stigmatisation for victims of rape and violence, where the burden to prove rape or abuse often lies in evidence of it also being a violent attack.”

According to Musa, “Nigeria which is home to an estimated 205 million people, has no legislation that will protect or facilitate care and support for survivors.”

The bill which received the support of lawmakers was referred by the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central) is expected to submit its report back to the Senate in four weeks.

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